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Sample Forum/Quiz Answers Analyzed

Your responses--whether pasted into a forum response or emailed directly to the course instructor--should be at least 10 lines long to earn full credit, usually up to 25 points (double the length and substance for double the points). The forums (and email responses) substitute for quizzes in an on-campus course, so the responses in a forum/email should be thought of as brief, open-book essays rather than the glib one-sentence, off-the-cuff remarks of a chat site.

  • Students should show their judgment by selecting a question from a set of prompts and generating a thoughtful, detailed, insightful answer of their own to the question. Reading other comments already at the forum is strongly encouraged.
  • Students should show their judgment by replying to answers from other students already at the forum about works they have read in order to show their reasoned perspective on that reading.
  • Students should show tact and judgment in commenting on the essays of their classmates or others.

Sample Answer with Commentary: Full Credit

The contrasting examples below should help to show you that the writing for this course is most like the "persuasive" writing you did for ENG 111.  Making reasonable claims is not enough; to earn full credit, your reasoning must be based clearly on evidence from the readings of the course.

Dawn's Response Commentary

Preview: In her response, Dawn is analyzing how a group of minor characters think about the story's protagonist. Her answer is about one page long and appears in the left column with the professor's commentary in the blue column on the right.

Re: The Cautious Citizens You can modify the "Subject" line to put a title on your answer.  In an email message, you can also title your answer to characterize it, in addition to stating which task you are doing.
From: Dawn Cantelmo
Date: 2/24/98
Time: 4:44:46 PM
Include your name in order to get your grade--and so responses can mention your name.  Email is already stamped with date and time, but do include your name and perhaps your code name in email addressed only to me.
Comments This heading appears between the forum response heading info. and the body of your message, but not in email.
Question: Are the chorus right about the gods speaking directly to Oedipus because he answered the riddle? Does the chorus get anything right? If they are not spokespersons for the playwright, what kind of portrayal of human beings are they? In order to have the question in front of you as you type, you can copy and paste it into your response; then your readers and you can see the question you are answering.
     The chorus are cautious of stating frankly their thoughts about the connection between Oedipus and the gods. They think of him as "the joy of Thebes" and their "good helmsman." They even dare to entertain that he might be a child of the gods, "Who was your mother? who, some bride of Apollo...Or was it Hermes...Or Dionysus?" But it is the priests who seem to think that the gods could be in direct dialogue with Oedipus. In asking him for help to rid Thebes of its plague, they rate him "first among men" in all things including "face-to-face encounters with the gods." To Oedipus, they state how that in solving the Sphinx's riddle, " A god was with you" and suggest, "Perhaps you've heard the voice of a god...what do you know?" Dawn's topic sentence focuses her writing on the attitude of the characters she is explaining.

Dawn quotes phrases and brief sentences from the work that are relevant to her claim: the chorus and priest(s) think more than they state aloud. Good answers mix claims and support.

    But Oedipus was not in direct contact with the gods because in three places we hear how Oedipus goes to outside avenues to find out information from the gods. First, in his own journey to Delphi he sees the Oracle of Apollo; then when he sends Creon there, and finally when he sends for Tiresias, who is said to see "with the eyes of Apollo." However, I believe that there was a strong connection between Oedipus and the gods. The gods manipulated Oedipus to meet a predestined fate, which in his arrogance, he thought he avoided. The gods planted the riddle's solution in him - no one else could answer the riddle because on one else was supposed to answer it. It was a critical point of fulfilling the prophecy. Dawn sees more than the characters do.   When disagreeing with the expressed view of the characters (the chorus, in this case) she lists evidence from the story that gave rise to and supports her perspective, marking the list of reasons with transition words: first, then, finally.

Dawn infers (guesses wisely) an explanation for a crucial event in the story and relates its importance.

     So who are the chorus? They are the one voice of the masses, the citizens of Thebes; they play a subservient role: "I never look to judge the ones in power," [they state in unison]. I think that the chorus act as a verbal mental process for survival during the crisis. The chorus reacts to what they see and are told. They reflect a response to the scene presented to them. They guide, soothe, question, restate, examine. They verbalize the way thinking is done: guessing, thinking, reacting, reasoning, feeling through the situation to find the safest, soundest foundation for survival. They come to conclusions based on their belief in what becomes proven. They don't always get things right because they are in metamorphosis. And to them conclusions of truth are  not as important as conclusions for survival. Dawn paraphrases the question before answering directly.   Her explanation builds on the examples she has already given (e.g. in listing the kinds of thinking the chorus displays, which she already previewed for us).

In an essay, these claims could be supported with examples, but in a quiz her logic is clear enough because they are consistent with the view that the chorus is cautious.

Sample Answer with Commentary: Partial Credit

Student's Reply Commentary

The chorus was really a pain, in more ways than one. As you are reading the play stopping to read the chorus response was slowing down the flow of the play.


No examples or quotations are included.  The student is onto something (the choral passages are much harder to read because they are more poetic--with more metaphors and allusions to the gods and mythology than the usual spoken passages). But this realization isn't fully formed.
It also showed again how everyone is looking for someone to follow, as were the chorus in the play. Whatever was told to them they felt correct, 'wrong'! This idea is similar to Dawn's characterization of the chorus, but it has no details.  So this response is "short" in that the evidence is missing to support the claims.

Here's a longer sample forum with more details about criteria for effective responses.

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